View Full Version : GBR Press: No newts is bad news - Gardening

5th December 2006, 02:40
<u>THE TELEGRAPH </u>(London, UK) 02 December 06 No newts is bad news - Helen Yemm answers your gardening questions
I intend to enlarge an existing pond. I am confident that, with a little planning, the pond plants will survive. However, the pond is home to a large population of newts and I would hate to upset them. The old pond liner is going to have to be completely removed and the whole thing drained. What can I do for the newts in the meantime? Will they just hide in the undergrowth and return when the coast is clear, or will they pack their bags and leave for good? Is there a best time of year to cause this upheaval?
Lucy Watson, Emsworth
Newts don't spend nearly as much time in ponds as most of us think they do. They only really need water to breed, and therefore hang out in and around garden ponds only in the warmer months, between March and August. During the rest of the year they hide under stones and logs and in other dark, secret places surprisingly far from any water, and even dig themselves into the soil if the weather gets really cold. So it would be best to carry out the work on your pond in the winter months - despite the fact that it will, of course, be less pleasant and far messier.
An additional thought about draining the old pond: the water and sludge at the bottom contains an awful lot of largely unseen biology that it would be a shame to lose, especially if you want your newts to return and breed again soon.
I also suspect that other local wildlife is dependent on the permanent source of water that your pond represents, so I would take the trouble to dig a sizeable hole somewhere nearby (about 60cm/2ft deep), line it with a simple, stout polythene sheet, and fill it with some of your saved pond water and sludge, together with a dollop of oxygenating pond weed that the newts will appreciate when they come to lay their eggs.
Once the water in the new pond has settled, you can carefully transfer the contents of the temporary one to it. Hopefully the newts will come out from under their logs and stones and slip quietly back, no doubt rejoicing in a discreet, newtish sort of way at the stylishness of their new, improved summer accommodation.